Curator of Collections
The Los Altos History Museum, located north of San Jose on the Peninsula, operates a museum complex including two main buildings, one a historic 1905 house, the other a modern 3-story museum. We feature three-to-four changing history exhibits a year in each building and have several permanent exhibitions on display. A collection of over 16,000 items, including three-dimensional, archaeological, and archival material is held in the Museum’s onsite storage. A strong and active volunteer network assists with many day-to-day operations, in addition to organizing special events throughout the year. The annual operating budget of over $600,000 is funded by individual donations, public and private grants, program fees, bequests, membership dues, an active rental events program and gift store. See our web page, www.LosAltosHistory.org for more information. In 2023, the Museum will unveil a new permanent exhibition entitled “Making Connections: Stories from the Land.”
The Curator of Collections, one of a small professional staff, will lead the Museum’s research efforts and our mission to “challenge established narratives” through the professional management of our collection and the responsible display of information. The Curator of Collections will have oversight of our collection and permanent exhibitions, including the new permanent exhibition in the main building and in the J. Gilbert Smith House. This position reports to the Executive Director and works closely with the Collections, Oral History, Smith House, and Permanent Exhibit committees, as well as with the Museum Educator and other staff. This is a full-time, permanent position for someone experienced in collection based research.
Specific Duties :
- Research. Becomes a subject expert in local Los Altos and surrounding area history by surveying and understanding the Museum’s collection, answering inquiries, and assisting with exhibition research.
- Public Interfaces. Ensures public awareness of Museum’s collection content. Delivers talks to private and public audiences on topics related to Los Altos history. Helps develop interfaces to provide content to visitors and the public, including online portals, mobile apps, and exhibition displays.
- Exhibits. Updates permanent exhibition content as necessary, with quarterly assessments. Serves as the primary staff contact for the vendors and contractors responsible for creating and supporting the new permanent exhibit. Troubleshoots problems and manages fixes as necessary.
- Collection Scope. – Enforces the Museum’s Collection Policy, and actively suggests areas for accessioning and deaccessioning collection material according to AAM professional standards.
- Collection Care. Oversees the physical collection storage, ensures inventory of collection is periodically conducted, expedites photographing the collection in a systematic and organized fashion. Supports ongoing efforts to scan archival and photographic material.
- Donation Processing. Supervises volunteers, students, and interns to catalogue incoming oral histories and collections to ensure donations are appropriately processed and donors are notified and thanked in a timely manner.
- Database Maintenance. Ensures volunteers and interns populate the Past Perfect database to track collection assets, including artifacts and archival material. Ensures appropriate standards of data entry are employed by all users. Develops procedures for streamlining the documentation of the collection.
- External Assets. Devises a mechanism for tracking information about external buildings, historic sites, and places that are of historic interest and maintains such information with the assistance of volunteers.
- Publication Work. As appropriate, seeks out and suggests publication outlets for information drawn from the collection. Provides content for such publications in collaboration with other stakeholders.
- Current Trends. Keeps abreast of current trends and industry best practices. Regularly conducts research and attends industry relevant workshops and trainings.
- Excellent research and writing ability required
- Engaging public speaker with strong potential to represent Los Altos history
- Strong database management and organizational skills required
- Ability to work with a wide diversity of people, build consensus, and communicate clearly
- Fluency with a range of computer software, such as: collection databases, esp. Past Perfect; application tools such as Kiosk Pro and Google maps; Adobe creative suite; MS Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint); Apple ARKit; other online, cloud-based project management and collaboration tools
- Commitment to transparency in public institutions and equal access to information.
Required Education and/or Experience:
- Collection management experience
- Public history academic training and/or experience
- Proven experience working with skilled volunteers
- Bachelor’s degree required, Advanced degree desired, from an accredited college or university in History, Urban Studies, Anthropology, Library Sciences, Information Technology, Museum Studies, Art History, or related field.
Physical Demands & Work Environment:
While performing the duties of this job, the employee is frequently required to stand, sit, walk, reach with hands and arms, and talk or hear. Must be able to lift 30 lbs. Must be able to perform repetitive motions 75% of the time. May require climbing a ladder and driving personal vehicle. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable persons with disabilities to perform the essential functions.
Job Location: Los Altos, CA (San Francisco Bay Area/Peninsula)
Company Name: Los Altos History Museum
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